McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Brand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Price Point: $20-$25 for 1.75 L
Distiller: Buffalo Trace Distillery
Because this is my first review, I wanted to choose a special whiskey. Other bloggers would have chosen something rare, something expensive. Something intangible for the average twenty-something whiskey drinker.
I value whiskey for its taste, regardless of its prestige or price point. This is precisely why I chose Benchmark, one of my personal favorites, and arguably the best value for bourbon drinkers around the world.
I was first introduced to Benchmark by my dad. Being the whiskey (specifically bourbon) expert, he cringed at the fact that my drink of choice was a Jack & Coke. I certainly have nothing against Jack Daniel’s (in fact I’ll be reviewing it in the coming weeks), but when that particular concoction is as far as you dive into the wonderful world of whiskey, you are truly missing out on some great experiences.
Upon trying Benchmark, mixed with a little Coke of course, I was impressed. It had a very similar caramel-y, sugary flavor reminiscent of Jack Daniel’s, only with a little something more. When I tried it on the rocks for the first time, I was absolutely hooked. Benchmark was my new staple; a whiskey that was both very flavorful and very easy to drink. When it was time for me to buy my own, I was even more pleased. With a price point in the $20 range for a handle, how can you say no?
Two years later, I still can’t say no to Benchmark.
Benchmark’s aroma is plainly stated – perfect. In my opinion, this is exactly how a high-quality bourbon should smell. It is complex enough to distinguish itself from other bourbons without anything extra added on as a trademark. This is the benchmark (pun fully intended) for all other bourbons.
The main theme with Benchmark’s taste is sweetness. Even without a mixer, you will notice just as much sugar in Benchmark as your favorite soda. It doesn’t overpower the taste – it’s just there to keep you interested. Once you have the liquid in your mouth, and are savoring it for a few seconds, you’ll really notice a strong caramel taste above all else, followed by a light vanilla.
The aftertaste is just as sweet as ever, and lingers for quite some time. But in a good way.
Rating & Recommendations
Clearly I am a fan of Benchmark. However, because it is such an even-keeled whiskey, it’s difficult for me to give it a very high rating. Benchmark is absolutely perfect with a mixer or as an everyday bourbon, but it’s not unique enough for a 90 rating or higher. I rate Benchmark’s Old No. 8 brand with an 80 out of 100.
The possibilities for drinking Benchmark are wide open. Most people will choose to mix it with Coke or Ginger Ale, which is absolutely fine, and even encouraged by me. I prefer drinking mine with a few cubes of ice, but it’s just as enjoyable neat.
As long as you are drinking and enjoying Benchmark, you’re doing it the right way.